There is a whole raft of ways to encourage people to buy EVs. The previous government implemented a multi-pronged approach, including financial incentives, infrastructure development, information campaigns and regulation. All that undeniably increased EV uptake.
However, with a new government at the helm, the narrative surrounding climate change, electrification and EVs seems to be shifting. We’re now moving towards a market-driven approach, trusting that economic forces alone will solve climate change and encourage people to buy more EVs.
National has stated its ongoing commitment to renewables and to EVs. But the early introduction of Road User Charges for light EVs (from 1 April 2024) and the reversal of oil exploration restrictions raises concerns about New Zealand’s commitment to climate action.
Introducing Road User Chargers for EVs is a gamble. While it may generate some additional revenue for road maintenance, the current proportion of EVs in the entire national fleet (2.1%) hardly justifies it. This figure needs to be closer to 5% before it has reached a tipping point. Introducing extra charges too early will discourage early adopters and will undermine the momentum built.
While market forces can play a role in accelerating adoption of EVs, they have limitations. The purchase price remains a barrier for many, and rural charging infrastructure needs attention. Both areas require continued government support, through direct and indirect funding for infrastructure (thanks ChargeNet!) and incentives, like car-sharing programs (check out Zilch). Leaving everything to the market risks jeopardising the pace of electrification.
As for reversing the ban on oil exploration, this sends a negative message about our commitment to climate. Locking ourselves into fossil fuel dependence contradicts the goal of clean energy transition and leaves us vulnerable to external fluctuations. Investing in renewable energy, electrification and energy efficiency is a path that aligns with global trends and offers economic AND environmental benefits.
Aotearoa New Zealand has the potential to be a sustainability leader. We have the resources, the skills and the opportunity to be at the forefront of climate action. Instead of relying solely on market forces, we need a robust, proactive government policy that encourages and incentivises rapid electrification, not hinders it.
The new government needs to demonstrate a committed vision for a sustainable future. We need ambitious goals, innovative solutions and unwavering support for initiatives that drive forward the electrification of everything, not just some. New Zealanders deserve to be at the forefront of this revolution, not lagging behind. Let's hold our leaders accountable and demand the action our planet so desperately needs.
We look forward to continued working with the government on this. Together, business and government are key to progressing climate action. In 2024 we’ll be working to strengthen our business community and make the most of every opportunity, both locally and globally. Join us in this mission!